What Curtains To Choose For Sliding Glass Door?

Trying to pick curtains can be a trying process, but choosing curtains for a sliding glass door can be a nightmare. Not only do you have several decorating questions to answer, the same as any curtain, but on top of that - you need oversized curtains made for a door! Have no fear. We'll help you sort out your curtain worries and save you from having to pick out a straight jacket, too.

There are many options to consider when picking curtains, such as:

  • Ease of operation - a door that opens several times a day needs easy to manage curtains. A door that is only used once every few weeks may be able to tolerate something a little less convenient and a little more cumbersome if it looks nice.
  • How to match curtains to the room.
  • Fullness - When fully closed, do you want the panels to still be full enough to pleat? 
  • Light filtration - is this a decorative curtain in a family space or a bedroom? What time of day does sunlight hit the door, and how much glare does it bring? 
  • Thermal insulation - how cold does it get, and how much heat escapes around the door (or how much cold air breezes inside?) Are thermal curtains a necessity?
  • Privacy - much like light filtration, you'll need to consider where this door is located. Do you need curtains that ensure total privacy, covering all glass with a thick, view-blocking material?

Continue reading for more on each of these factors and advice on picking the right curtain for you. Learn how and where to install curtains, how to pick the right ones for your decor, and more.

Living room with sliding doors that lead to a balcony with stunning sea view, What Curtains To Choose For Sliding Glass Door?

How Do You Put Curtains On A Sliding Glass Door?

Sliding glass doors are generally 80 inches tall and either 60 inches (five feet) or 72 inches (six feet) wide. This means that most curtain rods will require a center post (generally installed for rods more than 60 inches). This center post supports the extra long rod (and curtains). However, this also means that you'll need to use at least two curtain panels - one on either side of the post. 

The easiest way around this is to use a traverse rod system. With traverse rods and curtains, there is no center post. This means you can use one large panel to cover the entire sliding glass door. If avoiding multiple panels is important to you, traverse rods are the answer. Read more here: What curtains to use with a traverse rod?

Picking curtains - Ease of Operation

Obviously, having only one panel to move back and forth, simplifies matters a bit. If this is a door that is used frequently, installing a traverse rod may be worthwhile. In this case, pick a pinch pleat curtain like this one, available in 28 colors:

Click here to see this curtain on Amazon.

If that's not a good solution, the next best thing is to choose two simple curtains. Don't pick oversized curtains for an extra-long, draping effect (or extra wide curtains for extra fullness and pleats). It's just more material to push aside every time you need to open the door. Something like this is easy to use:

Click here to see this curtain on Amazon.

How Do I Match My Curtains To A Room?

There are two big rules in decorating. First is the 60-30-10 rule, which starts with picking a primary color for the room and two secondary colors to support it. The primary color should make up about 60% of the room decor. The secondary colors make up 30% and 10%, respectively. 

Assuming your color scheme is well established, you already know what color options you have for curtains. It's up to you, what the right color curtain is for the room. For more specific inspiration, try this picture post: 30 Different Ways to Hang Curtains [Picture Inspiration]

The second decorating rule is to unify the room (and whole house) with common, recurring themes and patterns. Again, this is specific to every person's home. But in a rustic home, having sparkly curtains seems a bit out of place. In an urban chic setting, curtains made of gunny sack material might stand out. Only you know what "fits" and doesn't in the space.


Some people like curtains that always have excess material. This way, even when curtains are fully closed, the material will hang with extra pleats and fullness. If this style is desired, be sure to double (or even triple) the curtain panel size.

For example, let's say after measuring the door you determine that you need 2 panels at 36 inches wide and 84 inches long. For extra fullness, make it 72 or even 108-inch panels (the length remains unchanged). Try an extra-wide curtain like this one:

Click here to see this curtain on Amazon.

What Size Curtains Do I Need For A Sliding Glass Door? 

Measuring curtains for a sliding glass door is relatively simple. First, determine the height of the door. If there's already a curtain rod installed, determine where the curtain will hang (either directly from the rod or curtain clips). Measure from where the curtain will begin to the floor, where it will end. This, obviously, is the curtain length. 

If there's no curtain rod, it's typically safe to measure the door length and add a few inches. Four inches above the door is most common, but you can simply tweak it, depending on how high you plan to hang the curtains.

As for width, measure the door width and add four inches to each side (this leaves a little extra so curtains can extend past the edge of the door). Divide the number by how many panels you are using. If you want fuller curtains, follow the advice above to double or triple the panel measurements.

Typically, sliding glass doors are 80 inches (84 inches curtain length). In most cases, they are 72 inches wide (or 80 inches long, divided by the number of panels). Sometimes, doors are 60 inches wide (68 inches for curtain width). Doors may also be other, not-standard sizes as well, so be sure to measure.

How High Should I Hang Curtains Over Sliding Doors?

A reclining chair near the glass door with curtains

If you just want "typical" curtains, it's safe to hang the curtain rod about 4 inches above the door. If you know you plan to hang the curtain higher than that, just measure appropriately. Some people hang curtains higher to make a window or room seem larger or keep them from interfering with the door. See: How to Hang Curtains from a Ceiling [5 Steps] to learn more.

Light Filtration

For light filtration, there are three basic levels. Blackout curtains, as the name implies, blackout the sunlight. Room darkening does not block light as extensively but does filter out some light (and offer some UV protection). The result is a dimmer room, but one that still has some light. Light filtering is the last option. These curtains primarily create a sense of privacy, allowing almost all light to enter the room. They can, however, at least block direct glare.

Knowing the space is the best way to pick the right curtain for you. If this is a room for sleeping, chances are a blackout curtain is needed. If this is simply for a door that faces the sunset every night at dinner time, creating a blinding glare while eating, a simple light filtering curtain may be sufficient.

For true blackout curtains, try these, available in 19 colors:

Click here to see this curtain on Amazon.

Thermal Insulation

Curtains are typically only insulated at an r-1 level (a level that indicates how much heat they help retain). However, with the right curtains, you can actually increase as high as an r-6 insulation factor! Thermal curtains like this one (with 19 color options) will help keep heating bills down and block nasty drafts.

Click here to see this thermal curtain on Amazon.


Obviously, you may be more concerned about privacy in a bedroom or bathroom. On the other hand, in a kitchen, decorative sheers may be plenty to block eyes without needing to be totally concealed. Most of the curtains listed above, particularly the thermal and blackout options, offer a lot of privacy. For other ideas, read 4 Types of Curtains that Are Best for Privacy

When more open curtains are preferred, consider a sheer like this one. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

Click here to see this sheer curtain on Amazon.

In Conclusion...

Curtains can be difficult to pick out. However, after answering a few key questions, it can be easier to sort out just what you need for a curtain. Once you know exactly what you expect a curtain to provide, you can determine what will and won't work for the room. For example, curtains have different abilities in regards to light filtering, thermal insulation, and privacy. If you first determine the most functional curtains for your needs, then picking something to complement the style and decor can be a piece of cake. 

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